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Sydney was born on 27th July 1895, in Beckenham, the youngest of Edwin and Edith Betham Booth’s two children. He entered Clare House School, Beckenham, in February 1902 and Tonbridge School in September 1909 having been elected to a Foundation Scholarship in the previous June. In the following summer he was awarded the Judd Scholarship. Having passed the London Matriculation in June, 1912, he left at the end of the term, and was then articled to Messrs. Joselyne and Miles, Chartered Accountants, and passed the Preliminary Examination in the following January.
Soon after the outbreak of war, 17th September 1914, he enlisted as a Private in the 3rd London Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. (T.F.), and on 11th March 1915 went out to France to the 85th Field Ambulance, with which he served at the second battle of Ypres and elsewhere, till his Division was sent to Salonica in November 1915. He served with the Salonica Force for two years till November 1917, when, having applied for a commission in the R.F.C., he was sent to No. 3 Cadet Wing, R.F.C., in Egypt.
His commission as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, General List, for duty with the R.F.C., was dated 24th March 1918, and he was confirmed in his rank as 2nd Lieutenant, in the Flying Branch of the R.A.F., 21st May 1918. After further training in Egypt he returned to England on leave in July and was then posted to 33 T.D. Squadron at Witney.
On 21st September he married Hilda Winifred Cowen, and on 6th November went out once more to France, where he joined No. 20 Squadron. On 3rd December the Squadron was moving to a new aerodrome at Ossoigne, near Charleroi, and both he and his passenger, a Corporal from his flight, were instantaneously killed as the result of an accident in turning to land under difficult conditions— " an accident," as his Squadron Commander wrote, " which has occurred to many good pilots and is known as ' stalling on the turn.' " He was buried at Belgian Cemetery, Charleroi.
His Captain gave the following account of the accident :— " The weather was very bad for flying, as there was a strong gusty wind which made the machines difficult to handle. Your son, who was a very good pilot, had made one attempt to land at the new aerodrome—a very small one—but had not succeeded owing to interference by another machine also endeavouring to land, and whilst making a circuit preparatory to coming in again, his machine became unmanageable. As he was close to the ground at the time, he was unable to regain control before his machine struck the ground, and he was killed instantly. Lieut. Booth had the making of a very fine active service pilot, and though he had only been with us a short time, was already very well-liked by all in the Squadron, who all regretted his death very keenly."
A Chaplain, whom he had on various occasions, as a sound and reliable pilot, flown on visits to other Squadrons, wrote of him: — " He struck me as being such a straight, good lad, with all the qualities that go to make up a splendid man."
Thank you to Tonbridge School for their assistance.
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